Monthly Archive: April 2012

Brazil Visit, lessons learnt.

Last week I was in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, for the Open Government Partnership (OGP) an event that saw the government of Kenya make clear its commitments to honoring the OGP guidelines of:

  • Transparency
  • Citizen engagement
  • Government accountability.

Apart from this very exciting event, as usual i was on my fact finding mission of Africa development and of cause trying to identify what the other countries are doing right.


For one, Brazil is a super planned city. It is originally planned in the shape of a plane, where each wing, head, body, tail are sectors allocated different roles; Residency areas, government offices, hotels, shopping areas etc.

More than 50 years down the line, Brasilia is still very clean and what was most amazing for me is the fact that traffic rules are followed to the latter. The meters rule of vehicle driving distance is adhered to the latter, time keeping of opening and closing of premises is also highly regarded.


Now, please note that this article is not meant to be a pity party and hence will not make it such but it is a real lessons learnt kind of thinking. That said;


The taxis are fitted with meter systems meaning that you pay per distance covered and hence indicators like relation to the driver, bargaining power of the pedestrian, traffic and weather conditions do not come to play. The other country i visited with this was Egypt. This is a very effective system as it ensures that no there are set standards beyond the taxi yellow lines.


Brazil is greatly a “card economy.” Credit cards, debit cards are a norm; well at least for most (about 99%) of the places i visited, fast food joints included. Ill write a separate post on the benefits of a card against cash economy but just to quote a speaker from a conference, “Kenya must be the only place you go outside, withdraw cash from the ATM and go inside to use it at the Supermarket”


Customer service despite race, color or age was fantastic. Ok this might be a skewed observation as everything about me said “not local” but i still did take a back seat and observe so i might not be very far off.


Coming from Kenya, we all know of the Maasai Market at major shopping malls where authentic Kenyan ware and art is sold. I tried to find a “Brazilian market” and each time i was let to a big mall. This is when i realized that Brazil manufactures most of its wares and with a market big enough to create the demand, they hardly need to export or import most of the other labels that we are more familiar with.

Another example around this was at our layover in South Africa where visiting most of the bookshops at the airport, well probably over 60% of the books that really interested me were by South African Authors or were about South Africans. Thambo Mbeki, Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Rev. Desmond Tutu etc


Well i could go on and on but this is just a snap shot of the things that really caught my eye in my limited 3 day stay but that i think would be very crucial for Africa if implemented and followed to the later.


If only I was President of Africa..



Application development, the new cash cow.

The other day, at the Connected Kenya Summit, I was sitting right next to my boss as they were awarding outstanding application developers who have worked towards vision 2030.

Being a first timer at the summit, I asked my boss a question and i was wondering, how far have the applications that were recognized last year gone?

Over the years, there have been discussions around upcoming startups and how they should be supported. A crop of venture capitalists is growing fast, the Kenya ICT Board gives Tandaa grants to help startups scale, google is giving, microsoft etc etc.

One of the biggest problems i have had so far is the fact that some startups are making application development a revenue generating model. Some have these exact statements in their business proposals. We have seen the same startps rewarded on the same products over the years while we still have upcoming startups that could do with the funding and this sets me asking, in three years if this startup is still asking for the same amount of funding, is this not a warning sign to the investor about the profitability of the company?

The bigger problem is the fact that funding applications development is becoming this bottomless pit that has a lot of money invested in and no actual scaling up or implementation of these applications. And by scaling i mostly mean out of Nairobi. Kenya, Africa is such a wide terrain..

Well from my computer science class, in system development:

Picture from Wikipedia







Implementation is a very key stage in development. From my experience, most application developers only go through the first 2 stages and halfway through the third stage and go right back up. Very few get through to the testing stage (those that have, sources say they went way over the time frames to get there) Well, Evaluation  is still a glittering star.

Picture from Wikipedia, edited









I am starting to develop fear that we are going to end up in a lot of application clutter, where we have so many applications that are not very useful to anyone, at least not even for the programmer after funding.

I have been talking to a few people about potential chances of having an applications recycle campaign because there are so many applications out there that could be reused to serve the same purposes without having to reinvent the wheel.

For the people giving funds, i would very much love to see an impact analysis kind of model that follows up at given time frames to ensure that the applications funded are those that have an actual impact to the target group and that there is some sought of implementation, testing and actual evaluation.

but again, this is just my 2 cents :)

Kenyatta National Hospital – Data Lessons

First of all, i want to use this post to say, Happy Birthday to Me. Yes, i am old and wrinkly today, at 24 but going strong :)

Sitting here at the Connected Kenya Conference in Diani, i have learnt quite a lot from all the speakers thus far but the most interesting i could say in this context is the presentation from Mr. Richard Lesiyape, the CEO of Kenyatta National Hospital, the largest refferal hospital in East and Central hospital with a bed capacity of about 2,500 patients.

Straight to the points that he mentioned that were of interest, i mentioned in a previous post that a little bird told me that KNH destroy medical records every 5 years. From his speech, i am glad to report that the hospital is being supported by Rockerfeller to digitize 4 million records of the 40 million that they have.

One of the most interesting things that Richard said was on mortality rates for a few select countries and Kenya has 44/1000 while Japan has a mortality rate of 2/1000. That is not the interesting part. The eye drawer is the fact that he attributed Japan’s success to their embracing technology in health and the connectivity that has been developed their hospitals. To mention is the fact that he said it is sad that no Africa country has made it to the cut of top 200 hospitals in the country.

Big data in the medical fraternity is growing quite fast especially with Richard confessing that before most patients visit hospitals, they google what they are ailing from and potential remedies for their ailments. The information is already out there and no condition is unique.

In a previous post as well, i talked about the disconnect in the data processes that exist in the country and looks like KNH is already taking the right step forward, working with organizations like the ICT Board to come up with a Unique Patient Reference Number which will be used across all hospitals to make sure that  patient records are cordinated and that the patient data shadows can be developed. I am hopeful then that the insurance companies will be able to tap into this to avoid the losses that i highlighted in a previous post.

In conclusion, it is encouraging to see that the hospital, through its top most management has seen the value of technology and data as part of an organization’s core competence. This said, they are already working with organizations that will help them move forward with this role into’ “puting Kenyan Medi-care on the graph.”